Four gold-colored frogs were found by children in a grassy field in the town of Shimanto in Kochi prefecture, Japan. Scientists say they appear to be local black-spotted frogs that have mutations in their DNA that controls pigmentation. It's unsure whether this is an isolated incident, or consequence of a larger issue of environmental concern. Therefore, they would be considered albinos. Full story via Pink Tentacle.
Hong Kong scientists review 23 cases of "mah-jong-induced seizures" in the August, 2007 issue of the Hong Kong Medical Journal. Although there is similarity with other types of seizures, they claim mah-jong-induced seizure is a unique syndrome based on the late age of onset (average age 54), patient histories, electrophysiological studies (studies of a patient's brain electrical activity), CT scans, and MRI scans of the brain. In the end, this study is very small and of those patients (3 out of 10) that did show some abnormalities in their brain wave studies, some had spontaneous seizures that occurred even without the stimuli of mah-jong. Original article HERE. Also on BBC.
A group of international marine scientists tagged almost a thousand bluefin tuna in order to study their migration patterns, and interesting results have recently been revealed. It appears that there are two genetically separate groups of tuna that share feeding grounds in the Northern Atlantic ocean. Amazingly, once spawning season rolls around, the fish separate out into their individual groups and head straight for their respective places of birth to mate! "There has to be some kind of genetic component because
the fish may be in the western Atlantic for three or four years,
hanging out in feeding areas, but when it is time to spawn they make a
bee-line straight through the Straits of Gibraltar to their spawning
grounds in the Mediterranean,"said Dr. Andre Boustany, from the Tuna Research and Conservation Center at Stanford University, California. "This would not happen unless the fish were natally homing and the two stocks were not interbreeding at all," he says. This behavior has been hypothesized, but never proven - until now. Full story via BBC HERE.
And speaking of homeward migration...here is a review of a sociological study on the concept of home. It appears that one's integration into the culture and society of your area is the prime determinant of attachment to that particular locale. In addition, the longer you stay the more attached you become. I know that appears logical, but the study is an interesting read.
Researchers working on the Human Salivary Proteome Project have now identified over one thousand proteins present in human saliva, five of which are associated with having oral cancer. They also found specific proteins present in the saliva of patients with breast cancer and Sjogren's syndrome (an autoimmune disease). Also, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have noted that amylase, a well-known enzyme present in saliva that helps to break down protein, can be correlated with sleepiness. Research subjects who were deprived of sleep for more than 28 hours had elevated amylase levels which normalized after a good night's sleep. All these discoveries may eventually lead to alternative detection methods for cancers, and even sleepiness, simply by spitting into a cup. Full article via Popular Science and Breast Cancer Blog.
Are you one of those people who have a pile of napkins filled with scribbles about your million dollar ideas? Or perhaps you just keep them in the back of your head? Well here's your chance to do something about it! Sundance Channel TV show The Green and Lexus are challenging you to come up with one big idea to help the planet. The winner of the "What's The Big Idea?" environmental contest will win a one year lease on a new Lexus hybrid vehicle, as well as $10,000 to get your big idea on its way. Just make a 1 minute video about your big idea and upload it to the contest site! Official rules HERE.
I went to a wonderful beach today called Moss Beach. It's just north of Half Moon Bay, which is just south of SF and is near Mavericks where they hold the giant wave surfing contest each year.
Moss Beach is home to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. It's a rocky beach that's full of small tidal pools when the tide recedes. I saw small fishes, lots of hermit crabs, and an insane amount of kelp and sea anemone. Some of the rocks were covered entirely with seaweed so it got a bit difficult to navigate, especially when I was trying to get close to the sea lions! I did lose my footing once and slipped right into the freezing Pacific water. It was fairly foggy at the beach, which allowed for some moody pictures. Check them out in my photo album!.
Is there a gene for tanning? Scientists have recently discovered that a well-known tumor suppressor gene called p53 may be responsible for initiating the tanning process. When activated by UV light, p53 sets off a string of cellular responses which lead to the production of melanin pigment in skin. p53 can be activated not only by UV light, but by chemical processes, as well as stress. Original article here.
Most spermacidal agents used in creams and condoms contain the active ingredient Nonoxonyl-9 (N9), which inactive sperm by breaking their outer fatty acid membranes (analagous to detergent breaking apart grease). N9 works great, but as a side effect it also kills off "good" bacterial normally found in vaginal flora that helps to protect against yeast infections.
Now, scientists in India have come up with two new non-detergent spermacides, DSE-36 and DSE-37, which target only sperm to inactivate them, thus sparing normal vaginal bacteria. (Read on via New Scientist). Original Article Here via Human Reproduction.
The results of a recent study, published in this month's journal Pediatrics, shows that girls who were overweight (by measurement of their Body Mass Index) as toddlers were more likely to start puberty prior to the age of 10, the "normal" accepted age at which puberty begins. 168 of the 354 girls they followed showed signs of puberty at age 9, and most of these girls had elevated BMIs. It is yet unclear as to how childhood obesity is linked with early puberty. One theory is that the onset of puberty is, in part, triggered by leptin, which is produced by fat cells. (Link to Article Here)
It is interesting to note that fetuses in the womb have amazing regenerative ability. We've known this since the advent of in-utero surgeries wherein fetuses that were operated on would later be born perfectly normal - scar free. This potential to heal - without scarring - by generating new cells to replace damaged cells is an ability that is lost in adulthood. (Children up to around the age of two are able to regrow severed fingertips.)
Now, new research has shown that there is potential for unlocking regeneration in adults. Acell Inc. is a company specializing in "regenerative medicine." Founded by a Harvard University surgeon, they have isolated compounds from pig bladder that, when sprinkled over severed fingers, somehow enabled them to grow back - nails and all!
It's of no surprise that the government has taken note, and has already been funding further research. Now, a handful of soldier who lost portions of their fingers in Iraq are about to see if they can be regrown. (Read on via Associated Press)
Photo courtesy of Associated Press: Lee Spievack holds out the middle finger of his right hand inside a Cincinnati, Ohio, craft store, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2007. Spievack had about a half inch cut off the tip of his right middle finger by a gas powered model airplane propeller. He says the finger grew back to normal with the help of an experimental treatment. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)